We on this bench have always had grave doubts about the part of the Act permitting the Minister to present an Order of this kind to the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) in the debate which took place on 8th December last, forecast that something of this kind could very well happen, and that the £100,000 limit was something about which the Government might well have second thoughts. When he referred to this, particularly in connection with church buildings, manses and similar properties, the Minister's predecessor intervened hastily at col. 536 to assure my hon. Friend that £100,000 would amply cover the cost that he had in mind.
During the Second Reading debate on 2nd May, my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) expressed considerable doubts about a limit, even of £100,000 and said that he felt that there was likely to be a great deal of confusion, difficulty and evasion. If there is a risk of evasion at a figure of £100,000, that risk is greatly increased by the content of this Order. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) quite properly pointed out to the Minister that his predecessor had virtually given an assurance that the Government had no intention of reducing the limit to £50,000 which had admittedly been discussed in Committee.
I can see no logical reason for bringing this Order before the House. It is nothing more than a piece of window-dressing, designed simply to give the impression to the country that Her Majesty's Government are going to tackle every aspect of the economic crisis, by every means at their disposal. They are quite right, and it is proper that they should do so, but certainly not by means of legislation which will have no effect whatever upon the present economic situation. It has already been pointed out that the effect of this Order upon the economic situation will be meaningless for probably six months——